COLUMBIA - South Carolina's new inspector general already has opened investigations on as many as nine of the state's 22 executive branch agencies.
Jim Martin said Friday he has hired staff and will have them on the job by the end of the month to pursue several investigations at different state agencies. Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to the job last month.
Martin won't say which agencies or how many have investigations open, saying only that there are less than 10 so far and that the agency directors haven't been notified.
Martin, a former white-collar crime investigator for the State Law Enforcement Division, said his approach is to find out as much as he can through tips or reports by current or former agency workers before approaching the agency. That prepares investigators to know what they're looking for and helps avoid cover-ups.
"You don't want people working one step ahead of you," Martin said.
The inspector general is supposed to find and prevent fraud and abuse. In 2010, former Department of Social Services finance director Paul Moore was sent to prison for 10 years after stealing more than $5 million between 2004 and 2008 and using it mostly on strippers, alcohol and gambling.
Haley created the $110,000-a-year inspector general post by executive order March 11. Her first choice, George Schroeder, left seven weeks later April 29 amid concerns about the operation's independence.
DeMint considered stepping down in '09
WASHINGTON - Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who has emerged as a national tea party leader, came close to quitting Congress after one term because of his wife's cancer and bitter clashes with other GOP senators over his slash-and-burn tactics to cut federal spending.
Debbie DeMint, the senator's high school sweetheart, told him he couldn't abandon the anti-government cause he had come to view as a mission from God.
"To my amazement, Debbie said we couldn't quit," DeMint wrote in his new book, The Great American Awakening. "So we spent those special moments at the end of (2009) praying and asking God to help us through the next year of campaigning. We had no idea he would answer our prayer in such a clear and wonderful way."
Within a year, DeMint was overwhelmingly re-elected, joined by five tea party candidates he had helped bankroll over mainstream GOP choices.
DeMint had expected a grueling campaign against Vic Rawl, a former state judge and legislator, but instead faced Alvin Greene, an unemployed veteran who had been indicted on obscenity charges of having shown pornography to a University of South Carolina student.
"It looked like my re-election might not be the long, hard, expensive, negative campaign I feared," DeMint wrote.
The charges against Greene were dropped last month.
Teen collapses, dies after basketball game
INMAN, S.C. - Authorities are investigating what caused an Inman 16-year-old to collapse and die after playing basketball.
Spartanburg County sheriff's deputies say Raymond Leon Robinson Jr. was playing basketball at a friend's house around 7 p.m. Friday when he collapsed and lost consciousness. He died at a hospital.
A woman who lives at the home where Robinson collapsed said he took a break to get his T-shirt, turned to walk, picked up his foot to take a step and fell over. She said she called 911 and started to perform CPR until emergency crews arrived. Autopsy results are pending.
In other news
A Rock Hill woman has been arrested after authorities say a meth lab exploded at her home. York County sheriff's deputies Sonya Sloan Burton, 37, were cooking meth in a bathtub while her children and two other teens were in the mobile home.